Barrasso Heads Effort to Strengthen Rural Clinics
A new act introduced by U.S. Sens. John Barrasso, R-WY, and Tina Smith, D-MN, could mean regulatory relief and improved reimbursements for rural healthcare facilities.
“As a doctor from a rural state, I want all patients to have access to high-quality care wherever they live,” Barrasso said in a statement.
“We need to do everything we can to make sure that people in rural areas are able to get healthcare,” added Smith.
In remote areas across the U.S., the duty of providing medical care falls on the shoulders of Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), Barrasso continued.
“Many of the laws focusing on [RHCs] haven’t been updated in over 40 years,” Smith said, which is where the Rural Health Clinic Modernization Act comes into play.
Established through the original act in 1977, RHCs’ original purpose was to address a growing shortage of healthcare providers serving rural communities, including advanced practice clinicians.
As of Thursday, April 4, there are 4,100 RHCs operating in the U.S. that continue to play an important role in the rural healthcare safety net. RHCs are typically heavily dependent on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.
The reimbursement rate for RHCs hasn’t been updated since 1988; the Rural Health Clinic Modernization Act reportedly updates that rate to reflect the quality of care provided by such facilities.
The act will update how advanced practice clinicians are utilized by RHCs, bringing the statute up to date with current state laws, according to a press release from Barrasso’s office.
Statutes regarding delivery of telehealth services and laboratory requirements will be updated as well.
The bipartisan act introduced yesterday also expands the ability of physician assistants and nurse practitioners to provide care in these facilities, said Smith.
“This legislation is really about making sure at the end of the day people are going to be able to get the vital care [RHCs] provide in underserved, rural areas,” Smith continued.
“I am proud to help lead this bipartisan effort to strengthen rural health clinics so they will continue to serve patients in Wyoming and across rural America,” Barrasso said.